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Acting Paradoxically for Success

Let's say you have to deliver a tough message about layoffs. Can you deliver that message in a compassionate way?

Let's say that you feel strongly about a certain issue. But can you jump on board and loyally implement another plan even if it opposes your view?

Can you both lead and follow equally well? Do you confront people when they don't perform but still be  approachable and easy to talk with? Layoffs

Learning to shift gears readily like this is critical to being a good leader. (Especially today, when the landscape can change in a matter of seconds!) If you're a leader today, you have to be able to think and act in seemingly contrary ways at the same time, or when moving from one task to another.

One of the biggest leadership challenges for me is re-thinking the value of being "consistent," being who I am, deep down, all the time, following one set of beliefs. When called on to act paradoxically, what I do is push out my borders a bit and expand my normal range of beliefs, behaviors and style, using two extremes at once: I'm loud and soft, strong and flexible, persistent and adaptable.

How does paradox show up for you? How do you have to shift gears at work? What kinds of quick and difficult transitions do you have to make in the course of a typical day?

Write down the five toughest for you? How do these discontinuities make you feel and what might you do in that moment that gets you into trouble as a leader? Now decide what you'll do next time such a paradox shows up that will keep you out of trouble and lead you to success.


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